One of the best ways to describe Malaysia is probably it being a food haven. More often than not, we’d associate Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Ipoh to be the best spots to find makan places. However, if you have not been to Kuching, Sarawak for a food hunt, you’re seriously missing out.
Boasted as one of the cleanest cities in Asia, Kuching has just the right amount of tourism. Its location and unique tribal history has produced a number of delicious food that are difficult to find elsewhere. And the best part is that the prices have yet to be inflated by the tourist masses, making Kuching the perfect budget traveler destination!
So, pack your bags, bring an empty stomach and discover a food haven in Kuching!
Sarawak Laksa at Choon Hui Cafe
We can’t start the list without mentioning the sumptuous Sarawak laksa. The late Anthony Bourdain once called it “breakfast of the gods”, but for us mortals, it’s also a great meal for both lunch and dinner! With Bourdain as the unofficial ambassador, it’s no wonder that the queue for a bowl of laksa here can take up to an hour of waiting. While you wait, find a seat and order some appetizers such as popiah (spring rolls) or eggs with toast. Wondering if the long wait is worth it? Yes, we think so! The bowl is filled to the brim with a generous helping of noodles, filled with delicious shrimp-based broth and served with shredded omelet, king prawns, poached chicken and beansprouts. You’ll definitely come back again!
Halal tip: For a halal version, we loved the Sarawak laksa at Mom’s Kitchen in Jalan Astana.
Choon Hui Cafe
34, Jalan Ban Hock, Kuching
Opening hours: 7.00am – 2.00pm (Closed on Mondays)
Price: $ – $$
Kolo Mee at Noodle Descendents
There are a number of dishes that Kuching is famous for, but kolo mee takes the top spot. Your trip to Kuching is not complete without at least trying a plate of kolo mee. Similar to dry-tossed wonton noodles we Semenanjung folks are used to, Kuching’s interpretation is served with red-rimmed char siew and minced beef in clear sauce. Noodle Descendants in Jalan Pandungan does the dish justice and with a name that implies generations worth of business, it’s no surprise that they’ve perfected the recipe.
Halal tip: For a halal version of kolo mee, head over to Pak Amit Cafe in Jalan Rubber.
Lot 18, Jalan Padungan, Kuching
Opening hours: 7.30am – 3.30pm
Price: $ – $$
Seafood at Top Spot Food Court
After spending the day exploring the city, treat yourself and your fam to a seafood dinner at Top Spot Food Court. Located on the roof of a multi-level carpark, there are dozens of seafood stalls to choose from. Choose your favorite seafood and you can request for it to be cooked according to your taste. Want it steamed? Prefer it deep fried or stir fried? Just ask! While you’re here, be sure to try the local fern midin, fried oyster pancake and Cantonese-style steamed fish. The prices are also quite affordable, and it’s best to go in a group so you can share a variety of dishes.
Top Spot Food Court
Jalan Padungan, Kuching
Opening hours: 5.00pm – 11.00pm
Price: $$ – $$$
Kenyah/Kayan cuisine at Lepau Restaurant
Roughly translated as “rice barn” in the Kenyah/Kayan language, this unique restaurant serves a variety of local native cuisine. The restaurant’s signature dish, the ayam pansuh is a must-try as you don’t find this often in Semenanjung. It’s a dish consisting of chicken cooked with tapioca leaves, stuffed in a bamboo shoot and cooked in a pot of soup. Another must-try is the umai, a traditional dish within the Melanau community where sliced raw fish is mixed with onions, chilies, vinegar, salt and lime juice. Lepau Restaurant does the best version of these two dishes (among many others) that you’ll probably go back twice during your trip!
Persiaran Ban Hock, Kuching
Opening hours: 11.00am – 2.30pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm (Closed on Sundays)
Price: $$ – $$$
Lui cha at Hainan Village
You may not go all the way to Kuching for a bowl of lui cha (thunder tea) but a visit to the small restaurant in the Sin Sin Park neighborhood might change your mind. Lui cha is notoriously known to be a health food, so it’s an acquired taste. It’s a mixture of stir-fried greens, preserved radish, bean curd and nuts, which are served on top of rice. On the side, you’ll be served with an aromatic green broth made from herbs, tea leaves, toasted seeds and nuts. Mix the broth with the rice and you’ll get to enjoy a bowl of goodness that seems to convert sceptics! It’s certainly a healthy break after eating all that kolo mee 😜.
149, Jalan Pisang Barat, Sin Sin Park, Kuching
Opening hours: 10.00am – 1.00pm (Closed on Sundays)
Grilled seafood at My Village Barok
To get to this restaurant, you’ll have to work up an appetite by taking the sampan across the Sarawak River. Besides food, the short ride to the other side of the river will reward you with a breathtaking view of Kuching. My Village Barok offers local cuisine such as midin belacan, ayam pansuh and prawn umai. But, we personally loved the grilled seafood such as grilled fish, mussels, scallops and prawns. Topped with brown sauce and sambal, it gives the dish an extra kick.
My Village Barok
7, Jalan Brooke, Kampung Boyan, Kuching,
Opening hours: 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Price: $$ – $$$